February 2013 English Major of the Month
Amanda McLoughlinHometown: Merrick, NY
Year in school: Junior
Favorite Book: Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
|What has been your favorite English course at NYU?|
I took Writing New York my freshman year, and the way Professors Patell and Waterman connected the texts to our neighborhood and the city’s history felt like the perfect welcome to New York. I still recall lines of James and Ginsberg and factoids about this and that street or building when I walk around downtown.
What led you to become an English major?
I never considered any other major. I’ve been a voracious reader all my life, but rarely got the chance to discuss books with other people. Now, that’s all I do!
What are your plans after graduation?
Working abroad before entering a PhD program in English, media, or information studies. That’s one plan, anyway; otherwise, I'd love to quit the world for a while to run a bookstore or small farm in upstate New York.
Do you have a controversial literary opinion? Something you’d whisper to a friend for fear of a professor overhearing you and taking away your English major card?
I thought Pride and Prejudice was… okay. I appreciate it! I’m glad I read it! I am open to being convinced otherwise! But without a critical perspective or a professor motivating me, I muddled through and sort of shrugged when I finished it.
What do you do when you are not being an awesome English major?
I work at the NYU Skirball Center, both in administration and in the box office. We have a great staff and a huge array of programming, so I spend a lot of time there! I also cook, run, attend and participate in poetry slams, visit friends in Boston and DC and LA, and try to read non-assigned books once in a while.
What was one of your favorite experiences as an English major?
Moments of connection with other people in the department: lecture-hopping with friends, great post-class discussions with professors, snack-fueled study sessions in Bobst.
What kinds of courses would you like see offered more in the future?
The phrase “digital humanities” is at this point so pervasive that it provokes eye-rolling, but I think we would all benefit from classes that incorporate information theory, computing, and attention to digital media. I’m also taking my first contemporary fiction class next semester—why it’s taken me two and a half years to do so, I don’t know! But I’m excited!
What opportunities does being an English major open to you?
The ability to express myself through writing, from personal writing to cover letters for jobs, has helped me secure great jobs and internships. We all know that pitying look people give us when we say "I'm an English major!", but truthfully, after three years in this department I feel much more prepared for the job hunt than friends with more "practical" majors.
What two authors, living or dead, do you think could create an amazing literary super-baby?
My first thought was Virginia Woolf and Chuck Palahniuk. Is that weird? I just think the kid would write in some crazy, fractured, exquisite stream-of-consciousness style. Second thought, after reading both Moby-Dick and The Pale King in the same summer, is Herman Melville and David Foster Wallace. Their progeny would write the longest and most exhaustively detailed books ever.
What advice would you give to fellow majors, or underclassmen considering the English major?
I’ve always had good luck taking classes that intimidate me. While I’d love to take modernism surveys and poetry colloquia from here to the end of time, those things come easily to me. Signing up for unfamiliar and challenging classes is intimidating, but those are the ones that influenced my academic interests and writing more than anything else. Also, if you haven't ever written papers in Bobst, give it a shot. Time shrinks in there. Pages multiply. It's like magic.